Sequential and Impact Test

8.3 Local planning authorities are required by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to apply a sequential test to planning applications for main town centre uses that are not in an existing centre and are not in accordance with an up to date Local Plan. Applications for main town centre uses should be located in town centres, then in edge of centre locations and only if suitable sites are not available should out of centre sites be considered. When considering edge of centre and out of centre proposals, preference should be given to accessible sites that are well connected to the town centre. Applicants and local planning authorities should demonstrate flexibility on issues such as format and scale.

8.4 The NPPF requires that town centre development takes place on sites within designated town centres and only where there are no suitable, viable or available sites. Should edge of centre or out of centre locations be considered, the reasons for rejecting more central sites should be clearly explained.

8.5 This sequential approach should not be applied to applications for small scale rural offices or other small scale rural development.

8.6 The NPPF also requires that applications for town centre development outside of the defined town centres above a certain threshold are accompanied by an impact test in order to assess the impact on vitality and viability of the town centres. The thresholds for Thanet are set out in policy below.

Policy E05 - Sequential and Impact Test

Proposals for main town centre uses should be located within the designated town centres of Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Westwood, comprising the primary and secondary frontages. Where this is not possible due to size, format and layout town centre uses should be located on the edge of town centres or on employment land designated for flexible uses. Outside these areas applicants should demonstrate that there is no sequentially preferable location within the catchment of the proposed development.

Applications for development above the following thresholds should be accompanied by an impact assessment:

1) Urban area - 1,000 square metres

2) Rural area - 280 square metres

The impact assessment should include:

  • the impact of the proposal on existing, committed and planned public and private investment in a town centre or town centres in the catchment area of the proposal; and
  • the impact of the proposal on town centre vitality and viability, including local consumer choice and trade in the town centre and wider area, up to five years from the time the application is made. For major schemes where the full impact will not be realised in five years, the impact should also be assessed up to ten years from the time the application is made.

Applicants should demonstrate flexibility on issues such as format and scale and will be expected to provide the Council with robust evidence of this.

Where an application fails to satisfy the sequential test or is likely to have an adverse impact on one or more of the above factors, it will be refused.